The Garifuna are the descendants of indigenous Arawak
(Island Carib), and Afro-Caribbean people
. They are also known as Garínagu, the plural of Garifuna. The founding population, estimated at 2,500 to 5,000 persons, were transplanted to the Central American coast from the Commonwealth Caribbean
island of Saint Vincent,
known to the Garínagu as Yurumein
now called Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
in the Windward Islands
in the British West Indies
in the Lesser Antilles
. By 1981, around 65,000 Black Caribs were living in fifty-four fishing villages in Guatemala, Belize, and Nicaragua.
Garifuna communities still live in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and abroad, including Garifuna Americans
In the Garifuna language
, the endonym Garínagu
refers to the people as a whole and the term Garífuna
refers to an individual person, the culture, and the language.:vi
The terms Garífuna
originated as African modifications of the Kalinago
The terms may have been used by the Garifuna to refer to themselves as early as the mid-17th century.
The Garifuna were historically known by the exonyms Caribs
, Black Caribs
, and Island Caribs
European explorers began to use the term Black Caribs
in the 17th century.
In the 18th century, English accounts used the terms Black Caribs
and Yellow Caribs
or Red Caribs
to differentiate, with some ambiguity, two groups with a similar culture by their skin color.:vi
The British colonial use of the term Black Carib
, particularly in William Young
's Account of the Black Charaibs
(1795), has been described in modern historiography as framing the majority of the indigenous St. Vincent population as "mere interlopers from Africa" who lacked claims to land possession in St. Vincent.:121–123:182
The Carib people migrated from the mainland to the islands circa 1200, according to carbon dating of artifacts.
They largely displaced, exterminated and assimilated the Taíno
who were resident on the islands at the time.
The French missionary Raymond Breton
arrived in the Lesser Antilles in 1635, and lived on Guadeloupe
until 1653. He took ethnographic and linguistic notes on the native peoples of these islands, including St. Vincent
, which he visited briefly.
Because the Carib people resisted working as laborers to build and maintain the sugar and cocoa
plantations which the French began to develop in the Caribbean, in 1636, Louis XIII of France
proclaimed La Traité des Noirs
. This authorized the capture and purchase of slaves
from sub-Saharan Africa and their transportation as labor to Martinique and other parts of the French West Indies
In 1650, the Company liquidated, selling Martinique to Jacques Dyel du Parquet, who became governor. He held this position until his death in 1658. His widow Mme. du Parquet took over control of the island from France. As more French colonists arrived, they were attracted to the fertile area known as Cabesterre
(leeward side). The French had pushed the remaining Carib people to this northeastern coast and the Caravalle Peninsula, but the colonists wanted the additional land. The Jesuits and the Dominicans
agreed that whichever order arrived there first, would get all future parishes in that part of the island. The Jesuits came by sea and the Dominicans by land, with the Dominicans' ultimately prevailing.
When the Carib revolted against French rule in 1660, the Governor Charles Houël du Petit Pré
retaliated with war against them. Many were killed; those who survived were taken captive and expelled from the island. On Martinique, the French colonists signed a peace treaty with the few remaining Carib. Some Carib had fled to Dominica
and Saint Vincent, where the French agreed to leave them at peace.
After the arrival of the English to St. Vincent in 1667, English Army
officer John Scott wrote a report on the island for the English crown
, noting that St. Vincent was populated by Caribs and a small number of Blacks from two Spanish slave ships
which had wrecked
on its shores. Later, in 1795, the British governor of St. Vincent, William Young
, noted in another report, addressed to the British Crown, that the island was populated by Black slaves from two Spanish slave ships that had sunk near the island of San Vincent in 1635 (although, according to other authors such as Idiáquez, the two slave ships wrecked between 1664 and 1670). The slave ships were destined to the West Indies
). According to Young's report, after the wreck, slaves from the Igbo
ethnic group from what is now Nigeria
, escaped and reached the small island of Bequia
. There, the Caribs enslaved them and brought them to Saint Vincent. However, according to Young, the slaves were too independent of "spirit", prompting the Caribs to make plans to kill all the African male children. When Africans heard about the Caribs' plan, they rebelled and killed all the Caribs they could find, then headed to the mountains, where they settled and lived with other slaves who had taken refuge there before them. From the mountains, the former slaves attacked and killed the Caribs continually, reducing them in number.
Several modern researchers have rejected the theory espoused by Young. According to them, most of the slaves who arrived in Saint Vincent actually came from other Caribbean islands, and had settled in Saint Vincent in order to escape slavery, therefore Maroons came from plantations on nearby islands.
Although most of the slaves came from Barbados
(most of the slaves of this island were from present-day Nigeria
), but they also came from places such as St. Lucia
(where slaves likely came from what is now Senegal
, Nigeria, Angola
) and Grenada
(where there were many slaves from Guinea
, Sierra Leone
, Nigeria, Angolan, Kongo
and Ghana). The Barbadians and Saint Lucians arrived on the island before 1735. Later, after 1775, most of the slaves who arrived from other islands were Saint Lucians and Grenadians.
After arriving on the island, they were taken in by the Caribs, who offered them protection,
and, eventually mixed with them.
In addition to the African refugees, the Caribs captured slaves from neighboring islands (although they also had white people and their fellow Caribs as slaves), while they were fighting against the British and the French. Many of the captured slaves were integrated into their communities (this also occurred in islands such as Dominica). After the African rebellion against the Caribs, and their escape to the mountains, over time, according to Itarala, Africans would come down from the mountains to have sexual intercourse with Amerindian women - perhaps because most Africans were men - or to search for other kinds of food.
The sexual activity did not necessarily lead to marriage. On the other hand, if the Maroons abducted Arauaco-Caribbean women or married them, is another of the contradictions between the French documents and the oral history of the Garinagu. Andrade Coelho states that "...whatever the case, the Caribs never consented to give their daughters in marriage to blacks".
Conversely, Sebastian R. Cayetano argues that "Africans were married with women Caribs of the islands, giving birth to the Garifuna".
According to Charles Gullick some Caribs mixed peacefully with the Maroons and some not, creating two factions, that of the Black Caribs and that of the Yellow Caribs, who fought on more than one occasion in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries.
According to Itarala, many intermarried between indigenous and African people, which was that which caused the origin of the Black Caribs.
Depiction of the 1773 treaty negotiations between the British and the Black Caribs
Britain and France both made conflicting claims on Saint Vincent from the late seventeenth century onward. French pioneers began informally cultivating plots on the island around 1710. In 1719 the governor of the French colony of Martinique
sent a military force to occupy it, but was repulsed by the Carib inhabitants. A British attempt in 1723 was likewise repelled.
In 1748, Britain and France agreed to put aside their claims and declared Saint Vincent to be a neutral island, under no European sovereignty.
Throughout this period, however, unofficial, mostly French settlement took place on the island, especially on the Leeward side. African escapees continued to reach Saint Vincent, and a mixed-race population developed through unions with the Carib.
In 1763 by the Treaty of Paris
, Britain gained control over Saint Vincent following its defeat of France
in the Seven Years' War
, fought in Europe, Asia and North America. It also took over all French territory in North America east of the Mississippi River
. Through the rest of the century, the Carib-African natives mounted a series of Carib Wars, which were encouraged and supported by the French. By the end of the 18th century, the indigenous population was primarily mixed race. Following the death of their leader Satuye
), the Carib on Saint Vincent finally surrendered to the British in 1796 after the Second Carib War
, the chief of the Black Caribs in St. Vincent, in an 1801 engraving.
When in 1627 the English began to claim the St. Vincent island, they opposed the French settlements (which had started around 1610 by cultivating plots) and its partnerships with the Caribs. Over time, tensions began to arise between the Caribs and the Europeans. The governor of the English part of the island, William Young, complained that the Black Caribs had the best land and they had no right to live there. Moreover, the friendship of the French settlers with the Black Caribs, drove them, even though they had also tried to stay with San Vicente, tried to support them in their struggle. All this caused the "War Caribbean". The First Carib War
began in 1769. Led primarily by Black Carib chieftain Joseph Chatoyer
, the Caribs successfully defended the windward side of the island against a military survey expedition in 1769, and rebuffed repeated demands that they sell their land to representatives of the British colonial government. The effective defense of the Caribs, the British ignorance of the region and London opposition to the war made this be halted. With military matters at a stalemate, a peace agreement was signed in 1773 that delineated boundaries between British and Carib areas of the island.
The treaty delimited the area inhabited by the Caribs, and demanded repayment of the British and French plantations of runaway slaves who took refuge in St. Vincent. This last clause, and the prohibition of trade with neighbouring islands, so little endeared the Caribs. Three years later, the French supported American independence (1776-1783);
the Caribs aligned against the British. Apparently, in 1779 the Caribs inspired such terror to the British that surrender to the French was preferable than facing the Caribs in battle.
Later, in 1795, the Caribs again rebelled against British control of the island, causing the Second Carib War
. Despite the odds being against them, the Caribs successfully gained control of most of the island except for the immediate area around Kingstown
, which was saved from direct assault on several occasions by the timely arrival of British reinforcements. British efforts to penetrate and control the interior and windward areas of the island were repeatedly frustrated by incompetence, disease, and effective Carib defences, which were eventually supplemented by the arrival of some French troops. A major military expedition by General Ralph Abercromby
was eventually successful in defeating the Carib opposition in 1796.
After the war was concluded and the Caribs surrendered, the British authorities decided to deport the Caribs of St. Vincent to Roatan. This was done to avoid the Caribs causing more slave revolts in St. Vincent. In 1797, the Caribs with African features were chosen to be deported as they were considered the cause of the revolt, and originally exported them to Jamaica, and then they were transported to the island of Roatan
. Meanwhile, the Black Caribs with higher Amerindian traits were allowed to remain on the island. More than 5,000 Black Caribs were deported, but when the deportees landed on Roatan on April 12, 1797, only about 2,500 had survived the trip to the islands. Since that this was too small and infertile a number to maintain the population, the Black Caribs asked the Spanish authorities of Honduras to be allowed to live on land. The Spanish are allowed to change the use them as soldiers. After settling in the Honduran coast, they were expanded by the Caribbean coast of Central America, coming to Belize
to the north, and the south to Nicaragua
. Over time, the Black Caribs would be denominated in the mainland of Central America as "Garifuna". This word, according to Gonzalez (2008, p. Xv), derived from "Kalinago", the name by which were designated by Spanish peoples when found them in the Lesser Antilles on arrival in the region since 1492.
This was also in the period of the violent slave revolts
in the French colony of Saint-Domingue
, which ultimately led to the slaves gaining the independent republic of Haiti
in 1804. The French lost thousands of troops in an attempt to take back the island in 1803, many to yellow fever
epidemics. Thousands of whites and free people of color
were killed in the revolution. Europeans throughout the Caribbean and in the Southern United States
feared future slave revolts.
The British, with the support of the French, exiled
the Garifuna to Roatán
, an island off the coast of Honduras
. Garinagu were inhabitants of Yurumein / Saint Vincent and were therefore exiled and not deported from their homeland. Five thousand Garinagu were exiled to the Island Of Balliceaux in 1797. Because the island was too small and infertile to support their population, the Garifuna petitioned Spanish authorities to be allowed to settle on the mainland in the Spanish colonies. The Spanish employed them, and they spread along the Caribbean coast of the Central American colonies.
Large-scale sugar production and chattel slavery were not established on Saint Vincent until the British assumed control. As the United Kingdom abolished slavery in 1833
, it operated it for roughly a generation on the island, creating a legacy different than on other Caribbean islands.
Elsewhere, slavery had been institutionalized for much longer.
20th and 21st centuries
In the 21st century, the Garifuna population is estimated to be around 600,000 in total, taking together its people in Central America, Yurumein (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
), and the United States. As a result of extensive emigration from Central America, the United States has the second-largest population of Garifuna outside Central America. New York City, specifically, the Bronx
has the largest population, dominated by Garifuna from Honduras
, Guatemala and Belize. Los Angeles ranks second with Honduran Garifuna being the most populous, followed by those from Belize and Guatemala. There is no information regarding Garifuna from Nicaragua having migrated to either coast of the United States. The Nicaraguan Garifuna population is quite small. Community leaders are attempting to resurrect the Garifuna language and cultural traditions.
By 2014 more Garifuna were leaving Honduras and immigrating to the United States.
The Garifuna language
is an offshoot of the Kalinago language
, and it is spoken in Honduras, Belize, Guatemala, and Nicaragua by the Garifuna people. It is an Arawakan language
with French, English, Dutch, African, and Spanish influences, reflecting their long interaction with various colonial peoples. Garifuna has a vocabulary featuring some terms used by women and others used primarily by men. This may derive from historical Carib practices: in the colonial era, the Carib of both sexes spoke Island Carib. Men additionally used a distinct pidgin
based on the unrelated Carib language
of the mainland.
Almost all Garinagu are bilingual
. They generally speak the official languages of the countries they reside in, such as Spanish or English, most commonly as a first language
. Many also speak Garifuna, mostly as a cultural language, as a part of their families' heritage.
Garifuna is a language and not a dialect. Garinagu are the people who are now on writing their own narrative based on their historical and cultural experiences.
The Garinagu do not have an official religion, but a complex set of practices for individuals and groups to show respect for their ancestors and Bungiu (God) or Sunti Gabafu (All Powerful). A shaman
known as a buyei
is the head of all Garifuna traditional practices. The spiritual practices of the Garinagu have qualities similar to the voodoo (as the Europeans put it) rituals performed by other tribes of African descent. Mystical practices and participation such as in the Dugu ceremony
and chugu are also widespread among Garifuna. At times, traditional religions have prohibited members of their congregation from participating in these or other rituals.
Garifuna parade on San Isidro Day, in Livingston (Guatemala)
There is a wide variety of Garifuna dishes, including the more commonly known ereba
) made from grated cassava root, yucca. The process of making "ereba" is arguably the most important tradition practiced by the Garifuna people. Cassava is so closely tied to the Garifuna culture that the very name Garifuna draws its origin from the Caribs who were originally called "Karifuna" of the cassava clan. They later adopted the name "Garifuna", which literally means cassava-eating people. Making "ereba" is a long and arduous process that involves a large group of Garinagu women and children for the most part. Cassava is mostly grown on the farms of the garinagu. When it is ready be harvested, it is mostly done in large quantities (usually several dozen pounds of the cassava root) and taken to the village. The root is then washed peeled and grated over small sharp stones affixed to wooden boards. The grating is difficult and time-consuming, and the women would sing songs to break the monotony of the work. The grated cassava is then placed into a large cylindrical woven bag called a "ruguma". The "ruguma" is hung from a tree and weighted at the bottom with heavy rocks in order to squeeze out and remove the poisonous liquid and starch from the grated pulp. The counterweight is sometimes provided by piercing the bottom of the "ruguma" with a tree branch and having one or two women sit on the branch. Whatever the manner in which the weight is provided, the result is the same. The cassava is then ready to be made into flour. The remaining pulp is dried overnight and later sieved through flat rounded baskets (hibise
) to form flour that is baked into pancakes on a large iron griddle (Comal
is eaten with fish, machuca
(pounded green and ripe plantains
) or alone with gravy (lasusu
) often made with a fish soup called "hudutu". Other accompanying dishes may include: bundiga
(a green banana lasusu
), and bimecacule
(sticky sweet rice), as well as a coconut rice made with red beans. Nigerians also make "eba", "gari" and "fufu" from dried, grated cassava flour and similar accompanying dishes such as "efo-riro" (made from spinach leaves) or egusi" (made with grounded melon seeds) soup. An alcoholic drink called gifiti
is commonly made at home; it is rum-based bitters
, made by soaking roots and herbs.
Traditional Garifuna dancers in Dangriga
Garifuna music is quite different from that of the rest of Central America. The most famous form is punta
. In its associated dance style, dancers move their hips in a circular motion. An evolved form of traditional music, still usually played using traditional instruments, punta has seen some modernization and electrification in the 1970s; this is called punta rock
. Traditional punta dancing is consciously competitive. Artists like Pen Cayetano
helped innovate modern punta rock by adding guitars to the traditional music, and paved the way for later artists like Andy Palacio
, Children of the Most High, and Black Coral. Punta was popular across the region, especially in Belize, by the mid-1980s, culminating in the release of Punta Rockers
in 1987, a compilation featuring many of the genre's biggest stars. Punta musicians in Central America, the US, and elsewhere made further advances with the introduction of the piano, woodwind, brass and string instruments. Punta-rock has grown since the early 1980s to include other electronic instruments such as the synthesizer and electric bass guitar as well as other percussive instruments.
Punta along with Reggaeton music are predominantly popular and influential among the entire population in Honduras. Often mixed with Spanish, Punta has a widespread audience due to the immigration of Hondurans and Guatemalan to the United States, other parts of Latin America and Europe, notably Spain. Punta bands in Honduras such as Kazzabe, Shabakan, Silver Star, Los Rolands, Banda Blanca, Los Gatos Bravos and Grupo Zambat have appeal for Latin American migrant communities. Honduran Punta has caused Belizean and Guatemalan Punta to use more Spanish due to the commercial success achieved by bands that use it.
When Banda Blanca of Honduras sold over 3 million copies of "Sopa De Caracol" ("Conch Soup"), originally written by Belizean Chico Ramos, the Garifunas of Belize felt cheated but celebrated the success. The genre is continuing to develop a strong following in the United States and South America and the Caribbean.
Belizean punta is distinctive from traditional punta in that songs are usually in Kriol or Garifuna and rarely in Spanish or English. calypso and soca have had some effect on it. Like calypso and soca, Belizean punta provides social commentary and risqué humor, though the initial wave of punta acts eschewed the former. Calypso Rose, Lord Rhaburn and the Cross Culture Band assisted the acceptance of punta by Belizean Kriol people by singing calypso songs about punta - songs such as "Gumagrugu Watah" and "Punta Rock Eena Babylon".
Prominent broadcasters of Punta music include WAVE Radio and Krem Radio.
Other forms of Garifuna music and dance include: hungu-hungu, combination, wanaragua, abaimahani, matamuerte, laremuna wadaguman, gunjai, sambai, charikanari, eremuna egi, paranda, berusu, teremuna ligilisi, arumahani, and Mali-amalihani. However, punta is the most popular dance in Garifuna culture. It is performed around holidays and at parties and other social events. Punta lyrics are usually composed by the women. Chumba
involve circular dancing to a three-beat rhythm, which is often combined with punta. There are other types of songs typical of each gender: women having eremwu eu
, rhythmic a cappella
songs, and laremuna wadaguman
; and men having work songs
, and hunguhungu
Drums play a very important role in Garifuna music. Primarily two types of drums are used: the primero (tenor drum) and the segunda (bass drum). These drums are typically made of hollowed-out hardwood, such as mahogany or mayflower, with the skins coming from the peccary (wild bush pig), deer, or sheep.
Also used in combination with the drums are the sisera, which are shakers made from the dried fruit of the gourd tree, filled with seeds, and then fitted with hardwood handles.
Paranda music developed soon after the Garifunas' arrival in Central America. The music is instrumental and percussion-based. The music was barely recorded until the 1990s, when Ivan Duran
of Stonetree Records
began the Paranda Project
In contemporary Belize there has been a resurgence of Garifuna music, popularized by musicians such as Andy Palacio, Mohobub Flores, and Aurelio Martinez. These musicians have taken many aspects from traditional Garifuna music forms and fused them with more modern sounds. Described as a mixture of punta rock and paranda, this music is exemplified in Andy Palacio's album Watina,
and in Umalali: The Garifuna Women's Project
, both of which were released on the Belizean record label, Stonetree Records. Canadian musician Danny Michel
has also recorded an album, Black Birds Are Dancing Over Me
, with a collective of Garifuna musicians.
In the Garifuna culture there is another dance called "dugu", which is included as part of a ritual done following a death in the family so as to pay respect to the departed loved one.
Through traditional dance and music, musicians have come together to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS
Gender roles within the Garifuna communities are significantly defined by the job opportunities available to everyone. The Garifuna people have relied on farming for a steady income in the past, but much of this land was taken by fruit companies in the 20th century.
These companies were welcomed at first because the production helped bring an income to the local communities, but as business declined these large companies sold the land and it has become inhabited by mestizo farmers.
Since this time the Garifuna people have been forced to travel and find jobs with foreign companies. The Garifuna people mainly rely on export businesses for steady jobs; however, women are highly discriminated against and are usually unable to get these jobs.
Men generally work for foreign-owned companies collecting timber and chicle to be exported, or work as fishermen.
Garifuna people live in a matrilocal
society, but the women are forced to rely on men for a steady income in order to support their families, because the few jobs that are available, housework and selling homemade goods, do not create enough of an income to survive on.
Although women have power within their homes, they rely heavily on the income of their husbands.
Although men can be away at work for large amounts of time they still believe that there is a strong connection between men and their newborn sons. Garifunas believe that a baby boy and his father have a special bond, and they are attached spiritually.
It is important for a son's father to take care of him, which means that he must give up some of his duties in order to spend time with his child.
During this time women gain more responsibility and authority within the household.
Genetics and ancestors
According to one genetic study the ancestry of the Garifuna people on average, is 76% African, 20% Arawak/Carib and 4% European.
The admixture levels vary greatly between island and Central American Garinagu Communities with Stann Creek, Belize Garinagu having 79.9% African, 2.7% European and 17.4% Amerindian and Sandy Bay, St. Vincent Garinagu having 41.1% African, 16.7% European and 42.2% Amerindian.
Based on oral traditions, according to some authors, the Garifuna are descendants of Caribbeans with the African origins Efik
(Nigeria-Cameroon residents), Ibo
(residents between Benin
- Nigeria), Ashanti
(from Ashanti Region
, in central Ghana
(resident in Togo
, Benin, Nigeria) and Kongo
(resident in Gabon
, DR Congo
and Angola), obtained in the coastal regions of West and Central Africa by Spanish and Portuguese traders of slaves. These slaves were trafficked to other Caribbean islands, from where emigrated or were captured (they or their descendants) to Saint Vincent.
In this way, the anthropologist and Garifuna historian Belizean Sebastian R. Cayetano says African ancestors of the Garifuna are ethnically West African "specifically of the Yoruba, Ibo, and Ashanti tribes, in what is now Ghana, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone, to mention only a few."
To Roger Bastide, the Garifuna almost inaccessible fortress of Northeast Saint Vincent integrated constantly to Yoruba, Fon, Fanti
-Ashanti and Kongo fugitives.
These African origins are true at least in the masculine gender. For the female gender, the origins comes from the union of black slaves with Caribs.
Based on 18th-century English documents, Ruy Galvao de Andrade Coelho suggests that came from Nigeria, Gold Coast
"and other West African regions".
At the beginning of the 18th century the population in Saint Vincent was already mostly black and although during this century there were extensive mixtures and black people and Carib Indians, they kept the existence of a "racially pure" Caribbean group, which was called Red Caribs to differentiate the Black Caribs
The Garifuna culture is greatly affected by the economic atmosphere surrounding the community. This makes the communities extremely susceptible to outside influence. Many worry that the area[which?]
will become extremely commercialized since there are few economic opportunities within it.
also known as Central American Island Caribs
; formerly known as Caribs
, Black Caribs
, or Island Caribs
until the late 1970s
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- ^ Ibidem, p. 66
- ^ Charles Gullick, "Ethnic interaction and carib language", page. 4.
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